Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review of Simplified Writing 101: Top Secrets for College Success

What a delightful book this is to prepare students for college writing! (Simplified Writing 101: Top Secrets for College Success)

The author writes in a friendly manner. She explains everything, starting with the difference between her conversational writing style in this book and the academic writing style used in college.

I don't like to bore you because the author never does. But in case you would like to know what's included, she covers: word choice, sentences, paragraphs, punctuation, grammar, structure and form, revision, the final product, and even submitting and communicating with professors.

As an English professor herself, she knows her stuff. But in addition to that, she knows how to present it in ways that are clear, positive, and actually enjoyable.


Monday, December 22, 2014

The Weary World Rejoices

After seeing various news reports, and various reactions to news reports, I got wearily off the internet to go say a Rosary. Being Monday, I said the Joyful Mysteries, which, of course, brings Christmas close. As I finished, I thought of the line of a song, "the weary world rejoices". And it made me feel good and also gave me pause.

The world that Christ came into rejoiced because the promised, long-awaited Redeemer had come...the little bit of the world that knew that, rejoiced...Mary and Joseph, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men rejoiced. As time went on, more of the world rejoiced, rejoicing not because everything was beautiful, but rejoicing through tears and travails. 

Everything wasn't rosy all of a sudden because Jesus came into the world. Joseph and Mary had to take the child Jesus into Egypt, a foreign land with a foreign language, to save him from Herod's annihilation of the Jewish babies. (And I don't think they hopped on a plane.) 

The Pharisees were constantly on the lookout for ways to discredit Jesus, and the Romans controlled the land with an iron hand. 

So why, then, did the weary world rejoice? Because God sent his greatest gift, his only Son; He sent us light. He sent us a Redeemer and a Teacher. Not everyone would welcome him nor embrace his teachings, and some would embrace only the parts of his teachings that they wanted. We aren't so very different today, are we? 

Some would forget that he chose simple poor fishermen as his disciples. Some would object that he talked with sinners. But wherever he went, he spread his light, and he lightened burdens.  

Each year, we remember his coming. Each year, the world is still imperfect. But still he brings light, and he lightens our burdens. Weary as we are, let us rejoice, and draw near to the one who told us, "Come to me." 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dialects of Love

I wrote the following a long time ago, so long ago that I think it must have been on my now-defunct website, Mothers Almanac, as I can not find it on my blog. But this morning my dear friend Diane asked for it, so - luckily - I was able to find it in my computer.

Dialects of Love

Two women, best friends, were once discussing their husbands. One lady loved going out. Her husband would vacuum the house but was reluctant to say, "let's go somewhere." The other lady's husband enjoyed taking her out to dinner or a dance but what she wished he would do was help around the house. The ladies, fortunately, laughed together over this.

We all have different needs and desires but more than this, we give and perceive love in different ways. Not so fortunately, sometimes a person tends to think someone doesn't love her because he isn't speaking her dialect of love. These needs, and these methods of communicating love, apply not only to romantic love but just as much to friendship, and our relationships among parents and children, siblings, and other relatives. And they do not seem to be gender-based nor necessarily passed from parent to child.

So how do we know how our loved ones perceive love so we can be sure to speak their language? One way is to observe how they themselves demonstrate love. Another is to ask them questions. And another is to notice their enthusiasm as you do things for them or with them. But perhaps we don't always have the time and energy (or even the inclination) to evaluate each of our loved one's individual needs in this regard. It seems that the more of the different love languages we "speak", the more we will meet the needs of all of our loved ones. There is someone who I think "spoke" in all the five general "love languages" and that was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I will explain that on another page, after sharing with you here what the five love languages are, as named by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D., in their book, The Five Love Languages of Children.These are not their explanations; these are my words. But the names are theirs and the explanations are inspired by my understanding of their concepts and my observations of these concepts at work.

We probably all need all of these manifestations of love to some degree at different times. But generally a person has one or two which are most important to him or her. The beauty of this knowledge is both being better able to meet the needs of our loved ones, and also recognizing that when we don't feel loved by someone, it may be that the person truly loves us but is simply "speaking a different language". This understanding in and of itself may help, and we also may be able to communicate better to them our needs.

Acts of Service
Acts of Service may be doing something for someone. Or it could be doing something WITH them to lighten their load. Some adults like acts of service but definitely prefer "a hand" to something being done for them, while others would love to have you just do something for them to give them some free time to spend as they wish.

Of course, especially in dealing with children, we have to be careful not to do everything for someone else, but there are ways to manifest our love this way without taking away their incentive for independence. For example, we can do errands they want or need cheerfully without complaining, or cheerfully do other things that they cannot do for themselves yet or perhaps don't have the time at the moment to do for themselves.

Quality Time
For some people, the best quality time is spending time together recreationally, while the love dialect of some others might be quality conversations. Even quality conversation may have a different meaning to different people. To some it may mean that you are willing to listen to them without interrupting, while to someone else it may mean a give-and-take discussion on deep matters. Still others may prefer working together with their loved one. Quality time often means personal one-on-one contact rather than a group activity, and can be demonstrated by giving the person our full attention.

Physical Touch
Some people seem to avoid physical contact and some seem to thrive on it. Of course physical contact varies depending on the type of relationship. Besides the hug, or squeeze of the hand, of friendship among women, or handshake or hand on the back among men, there are other contacts which we may not think of right away as filling a need for closeness, eg. men playing basketball together or a parent and child sitting together reading a book.

Words of Affirmation
Again, there are different dialects within this "language" of love. Words of praise are important to some. Some are comfortable with giving words of praise but not with giving words of affection. But some people may feel a greater need for one or the other.

We all know that some women long for a box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers to feel loved. But depending on who we are thinking of, and our resources, a gift need not be extravagant. A rosebud or a candy bar might do in some cases. For a child, or other family member, a "gift" could even be something that he or she needs, presented in a joyous or surprising way. For a friend, it could be as simple as a candle or a magazine or home-baked goodies. If someone's love language is gifts, the gifts can be small; it is the thoughtfulness that counts.

PS: First of all, I believe the above is very good for awareness, even if it can often be difficult to implement. Secondly, I found out that someone apparently resurrected Geocities websites, as geocities.ws. I don't know yet, if it's anything I can make changes to, or if it's "frozen in time"; but it's interesting that it's still there, complete with a picture of me, when I was much younger. 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Free on Kindle: Myers Family Cookbook

You can get the Myers Family Cookbook free for Kindle or Kindle app tonight, or throughout Monday, November 3, 2014. 

You will find recipes, how-to's, and family memories. Come, take the book; use it or browse it; pass the word. Review it, if you would be so kind. 

Thanks so much! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's not contagious

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about "the cross", the trials we have in life, and who we can turn to.

Today, I want to mention that our crosses are generally not contagious. Unless I have an easily-communicable disease, and you spend a lot of time with me, and we don't practice good sanitation techniques, you are most likely not going to 'catch' the things I have to deal with - or vice versa. 

As an example of what I'm trying to say, when we see someone who is homeless, if we think, "That could be me," that thought might make us more compassionate; however, on the other hand, that thought could instead lead to fear that the same thing could happen to us, and fear sometimes turns into shunning or blaming. 

"That could be me", can lead to: "What if that happens to me?", which can lead to..."Well, that won't happen to me because I'm careful with my money. That person obviously wasn't careful with his money." Really? Do we know that? No, of course we don't know that. It just somehow makes us feel better to think it...like, whew, I don't have to worry about that kind of suffering. You know what? Probably we actually don't have to worry about that particular brand of suffering. But we can be compassionate. 

Or maybe it's an illness. Maybe we eat healthy and exercise, and maybe that person who is ill drinks too much and smokes. So, after all, it must be his own fault he's sick, right? So, now, I don't have to worry about getting that cross. But maybe it really wasn't anything he or she did (or didn't do). 

You see, the deal is that we don't have to worry about getting each cross we encounter on someone else's shoulders. I can be really and truly sorry for what someone has to suffer, without worrying that it might happen to me.

And then there's our perception of choice. Have you ever looked at all the people who wait at bus stops, instead of driving cars? Why do they stand out in the heat and the rain? It's possible that person has no other choice. Or it's also possible they make that choice so that they can spend their money on something else, maybe to get an education, or maybe they have spent the money helping family.  

Whatever the reason, it doesn't mean they enjoy it. Let's not rub it in by saying we 'couldn't do that!' And conversely, let's not ignore the fact that it's challenging for them, by reminding them of all the money they save on car repairs, or some other way in which it's really "a blessing in disguise". Let's let people find their own silver linings, if they wish. And just be there for them. In kindness.

And let's just keeping "being there", but if we've ever said anything that we think, now, wasn't very compassionate (and I know I sure have), guess what? We're human. And we're trying. Let's start each day anew, trying to be compassionate; and let's start with ourselves first, being compassionate to ourselves, and then reaching out from there to others. 

God bless you, my friends, and may He hold and comfort you in all your trials. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Glass Elevator

              This is a bit of prose, written by my late son Paul. I'm not sure what year he wrote it. 

              I hope you might like it. 

The Glass Elevator

               You will turn the knob slowly with your frail withered hand.  Stepping into the hallway, you will take in the familiar mix of aromas as the door swings shut behind you.  Chlorine, air fresheners and various cleaning products.  Your ears will be tickled by the sounds of rushing fountains, the light buzzing of the younger people enjoying their happy hour and the screams of several children turning this oasis of luxury into a playground.

                You will sigh and dig the tip of your cane into the thick carpet.  Life just isn’t what it used to be.

                You will make your way slowly down the hall gazing idly at the exquisite paintings on the wall.  You’ve looked at them so many times.  So many that it will surprise you that you still notice them.  But they remind you of me, like everything here reminds you of me.  You don’t cry.  You never have.  But it hurts, like a deep hollow in your chest, and you will try to avert your gaze and direct your attention to the distant lobby.

                An attractive young cleaning attendant will roll their cart past you, but you only smile and nod.  You were always faithful, yes, but in the past you would have looked.  Imagined what it would have been like to indulge.  Now you don’t care.  They are not me.  It is me that you miss.

                As you turn the corner into the main lobby, you will hear the gentle coo of songbirds.  Why would there be birds here?  You will wonder.  You will scratch your head, thinking you must be going crazy.  You will adjust your hearing aid.  The other sounds will still be there, but the birds will be gone.  You will shrug. 

                You will walk lazily toward the elevator.  You will not be sure why, but something draws you there.  It will open.  You will walk in and close the door behind you.  Not sure which floor you want to go to, you will hit every button.  You used to do that for fun as a child.  Now you do it because you don’t know what else to do.

                The elevator will begin to rise and you will be mesmerized as always by the view through its clear polished surface.  The flowing fountains.  The colorful flowers.  The ivy that seems to climb as you do.  The art and the architecture, some of the best in the world.  You will salute the beauty of it all and smile as if saying goodbye.  Again you will hear the cooing of songbirds.  You will adjust your hearing aid, but they will still be there.  You will take out your hearing aid.  Every other sound will vanish, but the songbirds will still be there. 

                You will laugh to yourself.  You knew you would go crazy sooner or later.  The elevator keeps rising and you realize that you are no longer looking at ivy and famous paintings.  You are staring at blue sky and puffy white clouds. 

                You will gasp in astonishment, not so much at the fact that the elevator is soaring through the sky, but at the fact that you aren’t more shocked by it. 

                The cooing of the songbirds will grow louder and you will start humming along with them.  Clouds will fall beneath you as you rise higher and higher.
                The light blue sky and white clouds will give way to a dark blue sky illuminated by thousands of bright twinkling stars of many different colors. 

                You will rub your eyes as if you can’t believe how beautiful it all is.  The stars grow brighter and brighter.  The coo of the songbirds slowly coalesces into a soothing hymn sung by a choir so sweet and lovely that it can only be angels.

                The light will become so intense that you can’t see anything for a moment.  You will blink.  Then you will see me.  Your beloved.  Your spouse of more than fifty years.  Reunited at last.
                You will rush to my side and we will embrace.  Then I will tell you that I want you to meet someone.  You will look at me quizzically.  I will smile.

                When you see him, you will fall to your knees.  You talked to him everyday of your life without fail.  Even when you doubted him, you still talked to him.  You wore his image around your neck.  And now here he is face to face.

                You will lower your head, not feeling worthy to look at him.  But he will take you by the hand.  He will fill you with his unbounded peace and love.  He will tell you to rise and walk with him.  He will welcome you into his home forever. 

                And I will take your hand in mine and walk with you.  Forever.

(By Paul Myers)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Things are not always exactly as we think we remember them

A moment occurred the other night when I realized that a picture which I treasure from my childhood - one of the few things I still have - might not be such a treasure, after all. Suddenly, it made me sad.

I lay on the bed in the guest room, resting for a few minutes, and in that quiet time, I looked at this silhouette, and I really appreciated, so much, what my kindergarten teacher did with that project. You see, she used some kind of projector (whatever they had, circa 1958), and she put each of our silhouettes on the wall; and then, somehow, she cut each one out of black paper, & she pasted it onto a white background. How much dedication she must have had!

Now, to warn you, this story becomes very sad. If you don't want to go there, you can stop now.

When I was in...oh, I'm not sure...maybe fourth grade, the "estranged husband" of the kindergarten teacher at my school went into her classroom, before any children had arrived, and he shot her, and then himself. He ran through our woods; so the FBI came to my house to question my mom, but she hadn't seen or heard anything. (Okay, that was it; the sad part is over.)

I remember being freaked out, not liking to go to the kindergarten room for group activities, as we sometimes did. I don't remember grieving. So the other night, I guess I finally grieved (by thinking about her, and by appreciating her dedication and love for her students, and allowing myself to feel sad). But what I didn't realize until I did some research today was that this woman was not my kindergarten teacher!

I had looked on the internet before, but this time I found something...only, what I found wasn't what I thought. I didn't find anything about a shooting; but what I found was an obituary for a woman whose maiden name was the name of my kindergarten teacher, and who taught first grade at my school "until her retirement in 1979"...and lived to 2002.

The teacher who was shot was not my teacher. (I know. I said that already.) The story of the shooting is still a very sad story, and I'm still sad for that woman's family, and for all those in the school who may have known about it, as I did. (And I still say that the violence in the world isn't new, only the knowledge is more widespread.)

But when I look at my silhouette now, I can think of my kindergarten teacher the way I learned about her in the obituary...married, from some time after she taught me, until her death; teaching first grade until her retirement; and raising eight children. Dedicated? I should say! But she seems to have lived a long and peaceful life.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Prayer Space

When we moved from a house to an apartment eight years ago, we couldn't bring the piano with us. But my husband sings, so we bought a keyboard from Craig's List, and I volunteered a desk, which I had previously used for my sewing machine, for him to use for the keyboard.

We are now in a different apartment, and we did finally bring the piano home; but in the meantime, with the dining room table often full of papers, I never took the sewing machine out of its case for years.

And then, after one of our sons moved out, I was debating whether to keep an old vintage desk - a different desk (we brought a lot of furniture from Kentucky) - which we had moved from a basement to a storage unit, to someone's bedroom, to a corner of the dining room. Many years ago, my husband had used it for his homework in college. He wouldn't have minded giving it away, but I like it. So I asked him if it brought back memories he would rather forget; maybe he didn't like remembering all that studying. No. He just didn't have any attachment to it.

So I took the old desk for my sewing machine. And I moved it to the newly-vacated room. This way when I start a sewing project, I can leave the machine up for a few days before I put it back in its case.

Then, since I was re-arranging the holy pictures and statues in our home, I moved my lovely St. Therese statue to the top of the desk, a statue that someone had given away years ago, and that my daughter Mary had repainted for me. I added a plastic statue of my beloved St. Martin de Porres and a statue of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as well as a little wooden Crucifix and a few other little resin statues.

The desk could use painting, but nevertheless, I think the dark wood makes a nice background, for now. It's so nice to have a little quiet spot to pray the Rosary or read the Bible.

Do you have a special place in your home that's all yours, where you can feel focused, and take a few moments of quiet?

P.S. In case you were wondering, yes, that is a plastic shelving unit to the left, with a Christmas tree stand, accompanied by a pair of two-pound weights, a stretch band, and a ball; and yes, I now have a focused place to do exercises, too. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What's all the talk about the Cross?

There's a lot of talk about the Cross, about its value, and about us carrying our crosses. But what does it all mean?

I think there is a balance to be had, somewhere in the middle of the crossbars. 

First, there are the people who say that if we profess Christ, we will have all the good things of this world...money, a comfortable life, whatever we pray for, whatever we can dream about and work for, we can have it all. But we have only to look at the life and death of Christ...and after him, the Apostles, to see that wasn't part of His promise. (And I'm not saying we shouldn't pray and dream and work, just that it's not like a vending machine, where if you put in the right coins, you will get what you want.) 

Then, there are those who seek out crosses; who speak as if we should all have greater ones; who would even inflict them on others, weaker than themselves. That wasn't what He had in mind, either, He who said, "What you do to the least of mine, you do to me." 

Some say, if you are a Christian, you will need to have crosses, seeming to imply that Christians will, perhaps, have more crosses than the rest of man. But as St. Louis de Montfort (1600's-1700's) pointed out, everyone has them, everyone has suffering in their lives; it's more a question of how we will handle it.

Personally, I think it's a matter of where do we turn. Who do we turn to? Do we take them to Him who carried the heaviest cross of all, not only the heavy weight of wood, but also the cross of all of our sins? Do we take them to Him, no matter how weary we are?...to Him who will give rest to our weary souls? Do we take them to Him, even if we are feeling angry or confused or upset?

I used to think I had to be so very careful how I approached God. He is, after all, God, our Creator, great in His Majesty. But Jesus came to earth as a baby. He told us to approach His Father as our Father. I don't know about you, but as an adult - before my father had dementia - I talked to him pretty freely. I wasn't all, like, "Well, I have to hide my feelings and pretend I'm not human". And God knows we are human, because He created us human.

Last winter, I got caught driving through a snowstorm that sneaked up on me. As I neared my exit on the freeway, I saw that few, if anyone, had gotten off at my exit since the snow had started falling. I saw abandoned cars all along every exit, and I was in my little car, not my husband's Jeep. There was nothing for it; I needed to get off (I couldn't very well just keep driving around the beltway, which wasn't exactly a hay ride).

So I said to God, "You owe me one," and I proceeded, safely, off our exit. Someone I told that to asked me - with a smile - if I was afraid I'd be struck by lightning for saying that. No, actually, I wasn't, but I was amused that I had said such a thing. I honestly don't think God "owes" me anything. However, in my stress, I said the first words that popped into my head. What I meant was, "I've been through a lot in the past few years, would you please give me a little help here?" And He knew what I meant. He always knows.

Hey, this is just me, and I'm no theologian; but I remember that Jesus said if we want to be his disciple, we will take up our cross and follow Him, and I'm starting to think the most important part of that equation is the 'following' thing, the turning to Him, even if we are sad or mad or confused, even if we're embarrassed because, shoot, we've been forgetting to turn to Him; somehow, we keep thinking we can carry those darn crosses all by ourselves. But you know...maybe a little help would be nice.

Thank you, God, for helping us to bear the sufferings of this world, and for often bringing us joy and humor in the midst of them.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Does she really go by that long name, Margaret Mary?

Be prepared. You might find this a strange post.

For those who don't know (& for those who do, please keep reading too, if you don't mind a long read)...I changed my name at the age of 18. Peggy is often a nickname for Margaret, but my name was really just Peggy. Yes, I went from shorter to longer, and not only longer, but much longer. 

Yes, it was a crazy thing that happened to me on the way to adulthood. It was the 60's; what can I say? Actually, it was 1971 but I was a late bloomer. So...who calls me what? I'm going to go over this again to reassure anyone who might be puzzled. :) 

1) Yes, I really do go by the long, double name, "Margaret Mary", and I have for over 40 years; but if you are not comfortable with a long name, I answer to Margaret, & I'm not offended in the least. Some people who are very dear to me do call me Margaret; or Mary Margaret...& then apologize & I try to reassure them it's okay. Really. I get it; or MM or MMM, or one friend calls me M squared.  :)   But I prefer not to be called Mary, because that is my daughter.  

2) If you knew me before I changed my name, or you are related by blood, or you live in or near Vancouver, Washington, you are welcome to call me Peggy. Those are the only people 'allowed' to call me Peggy ;) , but from them, I often kinda' like it, you know.  :)  And I often sign that way to those people who "knew me when"...or are related...or...yes, you read all that already. ;) If you prefer to call me Margaret Mary because you got to know me at a high school reunion, or on FB, or because you see it all the time, or because it's what my more recent friends call me, or because you think if I changed it, I changed it; and you feel it's more respectful to go with my change, that's fine, too. Either way works, if you fit one of those categories. :)    

3) Isn't this the craziest thing you ever heard (although many of you already know all this). 

4) I have had people say to me, "I want to change my name". I say, "Don't do it". Please, "just say no". Have I regretted it? The same way I regret having gone to a cult, and so many related things. But then again, I'm not really sure you can call it 'regret', because you can't go back. If I could do my life over again and delete a month out of my life, it would be so very different. But would it be better? No, because everything would not have fallen in place for me to meet the wonderful man who is my husband; to bring into the world the great people who are my children; and to meet so many dear friends, as well. 

And I wouldn't have had two names that I love. :)  I do sometimes wonder, though, how the whole name change thing is going to go when I go to collect Social Security. Yes, I did it in a legal way. It was legal then, but it might not be quite as legal today, so there is another project for me. :) 

5) And I sometimes wonder, when it comes time for me to die, "What is Jesus going to call me?"  :)  It's one of those things I ponder on occasion. But I know. It doesn't matter, as long as he calls me, and it will all be good.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Paul's Speech on December 15, 2011

Some of you know that our son Paul died in January of 2012. I posted here, in the past, the words my son Joe found on Paul's computer, words which we think were to be Paul's next speech

But I had never posted the actual last speech which Paul presented. About a month before his unexpected passing, Paul gave this speech to a group of young Catholic adults in Cincinnati.Someone had graciously handed us a CD of that talk when we were at Paul's visitation. 

Finally, last night, I was able to turn the talk on that CD into a YouTube video...actually it's more of a YouTube audio. :)  The picture I'm posting with it is not from that night but from about two years prior to the speech, but I chose it because it shows Paul's joy. 

The video lasts 38 minutes, so pull up a comfy chair and your favorite beverage.  Thank you for stopping by. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Pardon my dust

I changed my mind again. I can do that, right?

"You changed your mind about what?" you might be thinking, if you didn't see the post that I just took out of circulation. You see, recently, I had decided to split my blog into two blogs. I had a blog I hadn't been using, so that was perfect (or so I thought). That blog was called Reflections, so I thought I would put my reflections there. Perfect, huh? (Or so I thought.)

But this morning, I had a different thought! My faith and family - my reflections on life - are part of who I am. So those would go better on the blog that "goes by" my name. "Margaret Mary Myers thinks" this or that. 

But my thoughts about cooking, trying to organize, and living frugally, are part of what I do. Those posts would be better on a blog that has its own title, based on those thoughts rather than on the name of the person who writes them. So I named it Simply Frugal Concepts

Perfect this time? I hope.  

In the coming days or weeks, I might move some of my past posts one direction or the other (and hopefully I won't get mixed up and move them to the "wrong" blog). So, in the process, please pardon my "dust". 

Thank you and be blessed. 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Diversity and Unity in Liturgy

This was posted in July of 2007. I am bringing it over from my other blog. 

“Take and Eat”
We can almost imagine being there with the apostles as Jesus gave them his Body and Blood for the first time at the Last Supper - the First Mass - because He does the same for us, each time we receive Holy Communion.

Just as Our Lord made the apostles into His first bishops and priests, they in turn ordained and consecrated more bishops and priests, taking the Holy Mass far and wide into many lands with many differing cultures.

In the midst of so many different cultures, there arose many differences in the ways the Mass was offered. Is it really the same Mass everywhere? Does each rite of the Mass have the marks of the Catholic Church: one, holy, Catholic (or universal), and apostolic?

Regardless of the differences in ceremonies and prayers, the Mass has always remained the same in essence.  Everywhere that there is the Mass, there is the Sacrifice of Calvary and there is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Each Mass has the same three principal parts: the offering of the bread and wine; followed by the consecration of the bread and wine into the Precious Body and Blood of Our Divine Lord; followed by the partaking of Holy Communion.

Differences in Culture
In some cultures, people showed reverence by kneeling. In other cultures, they showed reverence by standing. Ways of approaching God and the world differed. As the Church spread throughout the world, the bishops took into consideration the different customs and ways of the people, and thus the different rites of the Mass came to have somewhat different prayers and ceremonies.

In the East, there arose the Greek rite, the Russian rite, the Ukrainian rite, and more. After the Great Schism, some of the churches of the Eastern rites remained faithful to the Holy Father and united with Rome.

The Mass of Pope St. Pius V
In the West, through the first fifteen centuries of the Church, the ceremonies and words of the Mass became more and more diverse. Then Pope Saint Pius V appointed learned men to study the ancient ceremonies and prayers, and to rewrite the Roman Missal, bringing unity to the words and ceremonies of the Mass. In 1570, he commanded this Missal to be printed and published, and to be the only Missal in use…except for those rites that had been in use for two hundred years or more, principally the Eastern Catholic rites.

In 1962, Pope John XXIII added the name of St. Joseph to the Roman rite Mass, and set down some new guidelines for the liturgical year.

The Mass of Pope Paul VI
In 1969, after Vatican Council II, Pope Paul VI made major changes to the Roman rite Mass, changing ceremonies and the wording of many of the prayers, and allowing the Mass to be offered in the language of the people.

Since the introduction of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, the “old Latin” Mass of Pope Pius V has continued to be offered by retired priests, as well as by some groups of priests both inside and outside the Catholic Church. In the 1980’s, an Indult was granted by Pope John Paul II, authorizing bishops to provide for a Tridentine Latin Mass in their diocese for those who prefer it.

Motu Proprio

Now that Pope Benedict has issued his Summorum Pontificum, there will be greater opportunity for the expansion of the Mass of Pope Pius V, for those who are particularly drawn to worship God through its venerable prayers and ceremonies.

The Four Marks
The Mass, in every form that the Popes have approved, has the four marks of the Church.

It is one: one Sacrifice and one Sacrament, offered in union with the one Holy Father.

Each Mass is holy and produces the means of holiness for its members, even producing saints. We have the great Saint John Chrysostom, the golden-tongued orator, an early Greek Father of the Church. We have St. John Bosco, the gentle but zealous apostle to youth, who celebrated the Tridentine Mass of Pope St. Pius V.  In our own time, we have Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who ministered to Jesus in the poorest of the poor, who attended the Mass of Pope Paul VI.

The Mass is Catholic or universal, reaching out to people everywhere and in all ages, striving to reach different people in the ways that they are best able to bring their hearts and minds to the worship and love of Almighty God.

The Mass, in every rite, is apostolic, having been passed down to us in all its essentials from the apostles, who received it from Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Elements of the Mass

I am bringing this over from the archives of my other blog. 

I wrote it in July of 2007. 

Having attended the traditional Mass most of my life, along with an Eastern rite Catholic Mass, I wanted to share some of the comparisons I had recently made.


1=Parish mass of Pope Paul VI
(from Seasonal Missalette, April 15 to August 11, 2007, World Library Publications)
2=Tridentine Mass of Pope St. Pius V/Blessed John XXIII
(from St. Andrew Daily Missal, 1962.)
3=Greek Divine Liturgy
(from My Prayer Book, Divine Services, Prayers and Hymns for the American Catholics of the Greek (Slavonic) Rite, 1962.)

Sorrow for Sins
1-Penitential Rite followed by Kyrie
2-Confiteor followed by Kyrie
3-Petition: For…the pardon and remission of our sins and transgressions, let us implore the Lord. Grant it, O Lord.

1-Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth…
2-Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to men of good will…
3-Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen. O, only begotten Son and Word of God…



Profession of Faith – Nicene Creed

1-Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life. Blessed be God for ever. Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become for us our spiritual drink. Blessed be God for ever. Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the almighty Father. May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and good of His name, for our good, and the good of all His Church.
2-O God, who in a wonderful manner didst create and ennoble human nature, and still more wonderfully hast renewed it; grant that by the mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of His divinity who vouchsafed to become partaker of our humanity, Jesus Christ They son, our Lord… Brethren, pray that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father almighty. May the Lord receive the sacrifice at your hands, to the praise and glory of His name, to our own benefit, and to that of all His holy Church.
3-That we may elevate the King of all, invisibly borne in triumph by the Angelic choirs. Alleluia…For the precious gifts offered, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.


1-Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give Him thanks and praise.
2-Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is meet and just…
3-Let us lift up our hearts. We have them lifted to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord. It is meet and just to adore the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the holy, consubstantial and indivisible Trinity.

Holy, Holy, Holy
1-Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power, God of might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.
2-Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
3-Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.


Our Father

Preparation for Holy Communion
1-This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper. Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
2-Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace…Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; say but the word and my soul shall be healed.
3-With fear of God and with faith approach. Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord; God is the Lord and hath appeared to us.

Reception of Holy Communion


These Were My People

Another historical post, which I am bringing over here from the archives of my other blog. This comes from July of 2007.

As I read the story of these sisters, I wept with joy.

Fifteen sisters of a sedevacantist community in Spokane, Washington have returned to the Church! If you're not familiar with the term "sedevacantist", it means "the seat is vacant". Sedevacantist proponents believe that there has been no valid Pope since Pope Pius XII in 1958. While some traditional Catholics have questioned some of the things that came out of Vatican II and some of the decisions of the Popes, most still recognize each current Pope as the Holy Father of the Church. But sedevacantists reject everything done by the Church from Pope Pius XII to the present as not being "Catholic".

If you have read my post "Color by Numbers - Not" about my religious journey, you may understand why I wept with joy when I read this story. I said in that post: "July 1971-October 1971-Fell into a cult, an ultra-traditional “Catholic” group, run by a man named Francis Schuckardt in Idaho. I was baptized Catholic, while there, by a retired, missionary priest who was just visiting. Left the cult (with the help of the prayers and explanations of the lady who instructed me in the Faith)…but regretfully left my best friend behind (though we are again close today)." The founder, Francis Schuckardt, left this group, decades ago, but the group has remained together and retained their sedevacantist beliefs.

I was only with this group for a couple of months and it was many years ago, but I spent at least a month living as a guest in the sisters’ convent. So these sisters were "my people"...if only for a short time. I don't know if any of the sisters who were there, then, are any of the ones who have been welcomed back into the Church, now, but it's all the same to me. I don't know whether any of them is the sister who told me that yes, I should hang onto my grandmother's quilt because we are supposed to take care of what we have (I was so relieved), or the sister who gave me a whole can of tuna when I had a day ahead of me up on "the hill" (I didn't yet know I had low blood sugar but she saved me that day), or the sister who made the little gift to me from the community when I was baptized: a holy water bottle made from a vanilla bottle, with a holy card of the Infant of Prague, lace, and a flower decopauged onto it (it sits on my dresser still). I don’t know if any of the sisters who is being received back into the Church is the one who held the door, as kindly as she could, to keep my new friend and me from entering their bookstore to tell the sisters why we left the organization (I'm sure she was “under obedience” to keep us out). I don’t know if any of them are the ones who put our things in the snowy yard when we came back to pick them up, so that they could keep the convent doors shut to us (again under obedience, and probably with heavy hearts). I don’t know if any of the sisters from that original, cultist regime are even still there. Probably many attitudes and customs had changed immensely over the past 36 years.

But I only know that when I read this article I rejoiced! I wept with joy. God moves mountains…in his own time.

Please pray for these sisters...and for the sisters they left behind.

Thank you, God, for waiting for these sisters, for bringing the people and messages into their lives that would bring them to this new joy. Your ways so mightily surpass ours.

June Trip to Pick up Paul

This goes w-a-y back, to July of 2007. I did a blog rearrangement at some point and it ended up here. So, as you read, just know this was a number of years ago.

Having had my son Peter become legally blind (and somewhat worse than legally blind), five years ago, I thought I could handle it happening to another one. Actually, I'm getting ahead of myself. It would be more true to say that during those five years since Peter first lost his vision, it had been unthinkable that it should happen to anyone else. We simply refused to entertain the possibility - until Paul called that January day, six months ago, with blurry vision. I was shocked and shaken. But his good attitude rubbed off on me. I told myself that if he could handle it so well, so could I. I told myself that I'd been through this before, so I could handle it now. And I threw myself into my blog. It was an outlet, something I could do...and something I could control. When Peter had lost his vision, I could throw myself into helping him learn all that he needed in order to adapt. Not so with someone who's an adult and lives in another state. There wasn't much I could do but pray. I couldn't even hug him across all those miles.

Paul's attitude did a lot to help the rest of us, as he was so faith-filled about it. His first words to me after he got the diagnosis were a serious but cheerful, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord." That doesn't mean, of course, that he doesn't have an occasional difficult moment or day. That doesn't mean that he doesn't ever get bored or frustrated because of all the things he can't do any more (like drive or see the t.v.) and all the things he can't do yet (like use the computer or read a book).

Over the months, Paul and Mary and Joe have all said that they thought Paul's vision has become worse than Peter's. We here in Baltimore thought they might possibly be wrong, or more accurately: "surely they are mistaken". After all, Peter was so much younger and probably adapted more quickly. It will just take time for Paul to be able to do as well as Peter. Various members of the family have had many a telephone debate on this topic. Perhaps it was optimism on our part or just a refusal to accept what we didn't want.

Yesterday Mary picked me up from the Cincinnati airport and took me to the house where our absolutely wonderful friends are hosting Paul like a member of the family. Paul came down to the kitchen and looked at me. But he didn't, really. Over these past years I've been around a lot of blind people and I knew as soon as I saw the unseeing look in Paul's eyes that his vision is, indeed, worse than Peter's. I'm not saying he is totally blind; he isn't. And please pray with us that he can keep what vision he has. I've found that however little vision someone has, that little bit is still something they treasure. Well, when I saw him I wasn't shocked (as I had feared I might be), just sorry. And maybe part of the reason that it didn't hit me as hard as I had feared, once again, was his attitude. He looked - how shall I say? - perfectly comfortable with who he is. And that, after all, is very important. At last I could hug him! And he's so grown up; even his hugs are more grown up, more comfortable with who he is than when we moved away nearly a year ago.

We had a few hours until time to catch our flight back to Baltimore, and Mary, bless her heart, hauled us all over town at my whims. As we went shopping, I told Paul that Carla had taught me that if I'm guiding a cane user, the cane user should use the cane in his or her right hand and take my right arm. I said laughingly, "Of course, I won't be able to hear you if you talk," (being totally deaf in my right ear). He said, "I can use my left hand for my cane." I said, "Are you ambidextrous?" Mary said, "He is now." I felt a little guilty about "making" him use his left hand for his cane, especially since he's only been learning the cane for a very short time; but hey, it seemed to work out okay for us.

As we maneuvered through airports, sometimes I gave Paul my left arm and sometimes my right. I certainly kept him on his toes, with him trying to figure out where I was and where to put his cane, and my sometimes walking off without him, expecting him to just follow me as Peter would. We had some good laughs over that.

Our first crisis was when we came to an escalator...but it wasn't his crisis, it was mine. "Paul, we're coming to an escalator," I said with panic in my voice. He didn't undertand my concern, so I added, "I have a phobia of escalators," (especially down escalators). He hadn't known. I had always used escalators in spite of my phobia; I still do. "But", I explained to him, "if I had a baby with me, I always either took the elevator or handed the baby off to someone else. I can't let you take my arm and guide you on an escalator," I said, with rising panic at the very thought. He accepted the fact that I wouldn't guide him on the escalator and reassured me that with his cane he would know when he reached the bottom, so I guided him to the rail. He did fine, and after that, whenever we had an escalator, I didn't hesitate. I just helped him to the rail, dealt with my own interior struggle, and we were on.

And I suppose that experience helped prepare me for the fact that we were flying on a commuter plane, the kind where you walk outside and up a narrow, steep staircase onto the plane. When it came time to get off the plane, I was ahead of him and looked down that staircase in concern. The rails seemed to me to be in all the wrong places. We both had backpacks, I had my purse, he had his cane, and I have poor balance and bifocals, and there, looming before us was this down staircase. An employee looked up at me and asked, "Would you like us to get a lift?" Oh no, no way. First of all, they don't know that Paul is new to being blind, and I don't want them to think blind people are helpless. Secondly, all I need is for someone to think I can't do something and I will prove them wrong. Thirdly, I'm very afraid of this lift idea, and fourthly, what a huge delay that would be. All those thoughts swiftly and subconsciously came together in the space of a millisecond, but I think that the main feeling was a thought of Peter and what he would answer in that situation. I'm ashamed to say I didn't even consult Paul. I just processed all those thoughts in that millisecond of time and answered confidently, "No thank you; he can do it!" And as the man took my backpack, I guided Paul's hand to the rail. No problem at all. (Please understand, as you read this, that this was less a problem of my confidence in what someone who's newly blind can do as my own personal phobia of going down anything.)

As we waited for the plane, we talked, and I discovered that Paul is not only anxious to learn how to use adaptive technology (i.e. get back on the computer), but that he would love to learn Braille too. We had a nice conversation with a lady who was waiting for the same flight. She and I happened to go to the restroom at the same time, so I briefly told her our story, how Paul had only begun losing his vision a few months ago. Later on, after the flight, she and I were once again together, buying food, and she told me how well he is doing for his vision loss having happened so recently. Ah, praise of our child is always music to a mother's ears, isn't it?

We did have a lot of good laughs. Once I took Paul to the men's room and being restless, I forgot to wait outside the hallway to the doorway, and instead paced my way into that hallway, where a man walked in, turned on his heel and began to walk away quickly. I called him back, informing him with a chuckle that he hadn't made a mistake. I said, "I'm waiting for someone who is a cane user." I then asked myself why I said that? Why "cane user"? Why not someone who is blind? I really don't know. Maybe because someone once told me that someone was "a braille user". It felt less like labeling, and more like focusing on the strength. And believe me, cane use is a strength, as I saw on every staircase and (deep breath) escalator.

And Paul is our strength, too, in many ways. Yesterday we had a tornado warning; one was sighted about eight miles away, heading in our direction. We went to the most interior part of the apartment, but first I grabbed my flashlight. Being deaf in one ear, I don't do well in the dark...and if a tornado should hit, I wanted to be prepared. Paul grabbed his... cane? Nope, his rosary beads. Well, I grabbed his cane, because if a tornado should hit, I wouldn't want him to be without it. (By the way, I'm not phobic about everything. I just like to be a good girl scout and "be prepared".) So, we got settled in and I asked Paul to lead us in the Rosary. He led us with so much devotion; not because he lost his vision, by the way, but because he's Paul. And then we were done and the danger had passed, and he led the boys in playing animal, vegetable or mineral.

As he sleeps in, I look at him and forget that he's blind...and then I remember, and I wonder if he ever wishes he could wake up and find that it was just a bad dream. But I don't ask him that question. That, I think, is just my own thought, my own adjustment that I am struggling to make as I am able to spend a little time with him at last. For him, the waking up from a bad dream will be learning how to adapt. He has his books on CD. Now he's begun learning his cane use. When he can learn how to use computers, and hopefully at some point learn Braille, and learn all those adaptive techniques, his life will be as full as ever. Life does go on. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. And the Lord gives again in mysterious ways.

Party Manners for Blog Visits

I posted this on 8/16/2007 at my other blog. I think I was being a tad bit bossy, but oh well, I'm re-posting it for history's sake. :)

Let’s compare a blog to a home. My blog is my home; you are my guest. Mi casa es su casa. “My house is your house.” You are most welcome, and I’m really glad you are here!

Now, before I say anything more, let me say that I have never had any problem with pertinent comments here at any of my own blogs. (I say “pertinent” because I have rejected comments that were simply spam.) My only desire regarding comments at my blog would be that more people leave more comments, more often. I’d love it if you’d participate! However, if you’re busy or tired, you are welcome to just come by and take a few moments to look and listen, and then go about your business…or go on to the next party. I know some of you have many to attend. And I know you have much to do in the “other world”…the world of kids and houses and errands.

But here’s what I’m concerned about: The past few days, as I’ve been visiting other peoples’ blogs, I’ve wondered if some people don’t realize that they are guests at a party in someone else’s home. A blog, really, is not a newspaper, where people write letters to the editor…some of which appear in an angry tone.

If we were in a friend’s home and she had a movie playing on the t.v. and we thought some scenes might not be appropriate to the situation, would we get everyone’s attention and tell her loudly how wrong she was to play that movie? Or would we take her aside, pointing out our concerns quietly, assuming she didn’t realize what was in the movie…or at least how it might affect the people there? In some cases, she might not agree with our opinion on the subject. If we felt strongly enough, we could leave graciously, but it wouldn’t be our responsibility to tell her in front of all her guests what we think of her choices…nor would it be polite. Probably in real life, none of us would think of telling her what she must do or being rude about it. But in the virtual life on the internet, I’ve seen comments publicly telling a blog host or hostess in no uncertain terms, in their own blog home, what they should not have posted.

Along similar lines, some blogs are more geared to inviting the kids along than others. Some years ago, we had good friends who often invited us to parties in their home, always making their guests aware beforehand that children weren’t included in the invitation. This way they didn’t have to worry about what types of discussions were carried on in front of the children. Similarly, some blogs aren’t really geared to children, so we shouldn’t be concerned if the discussions that are carried on might not be appropriate for our kids; we can just not go with the kids unless it’s designed for the kids.

A feisty woman who was born in the early 1900’s, very near and dear to me, once talked to me after a party at someone’s home. She told me of a controversial topic that arose, and how she wanted to tell the hostess how wrong she was! She went on to say to me, very sweetly, “But I was a guest in her home; so of course, I didn’t.”

This isn’t to say that no one should have controversial discussions in the comment boxes on any blogs. Some blogs seem to invite controversial discussions and possibly thrive on them. But here’s where the faceless anonymity of the internet sometimes seems to contribute to people not using the same courtesies they would in person. If we stay with our party analogy, it might help if we visualize ourselves at the party of a friend; our host or hostess may even be in another room while we’re talking with strangers, but we know these people are guests of our friend. This might make it easier to tell someone we think their view is wrong, while remaining courteous to the person we’re disagreeing with.

There’s one place where I myself have to really work to be courteous. It’s when someone writes to disagree strongly, sometimes insultingly, with the blog host or hostess – or someone else in the combox – and remains anonymous. To view a public blog, even to comment on a public blog, one doesn’t have to sign up or sign in.  You can comment anonymously, if you’d like, with no contact information. But if you want to comment without signing in, how about leaving a name at the end of the comment? It doesn’t have to be the real name. It can be a screen name. Let’s imagine we’re at a costume party. We wouldn’t mind having a discussion with a character at a costume party. We could say, “Peter Pan, what do you think about this?”, even if we don’t know Peter Pan personally. We could say, “Cinderella, I don’t agree with your point”, even if we don’t know who the person dressed as Cinderella is. But would we be comfortable talking to a number of people who are mingling at a party, all wearing ski masks, all looking just alike? Unless we are really good at picking up the voice, we might not know, as one goes to the refreshment table and one to talk with another group, which one it is who returns to resume the discussion. Is this the person I discussed such and such a point with? Or is it a different person disguised in an identical ski mask?

I guess in order to give these anonymous people their due respect, I should envision someone I know behind that mask. I’m sure that most people who leave comments anonymously aren’t trying to hide anything. Perhaps they’re just not confident enough to give us a firm handshake, and say, “Hi. I’m so and so.” Or maybe they’re nervous about the internet…

And it is a good thing to be aware that whatever you post on the internet, if it’s not a private blog, email or e-group, may be searchable. I’ve done a Google search on my name before and found that a little comment that I wrote hurriedly in a comment box, appears in the search. So, yes, it does pay to think before we speak. But, then, that’s always a good idea, isn’t it? I’ll probably be working on that one all my life.

The Robe of Christ

(I am moving this over here from my other blog.)

It might not seem, at first, that a poem about the wiles of the devil would be a positive thing to reflect on. However, it is in the seeking of guidance from the Mother of Jesus that the poem gains its value, besides the fact that it is written in a beautiful and interesting way. If the name of the author doesn't ring a bell, he's an American poet, who also wrote a well-known poem called Trees (which ends with, "Poems are made by fools like me. But only God can make a tree.")

The Robe of Christ by Joyce Kilmer

At the foot of the Cross on Calvary
Three soldiers sat and diced,
And one of them was the Devil
And he won the Robe of Christ.

When the Devil comes in his proper form
To the chamber where I dwell,
I know him and make the Sign of the Cross
Which drives him back to Hell.

And when he comes like a friendly man
And puts his hand in mine,
The fervor in his voice is not
From love or joy or wine.

And when he comes like a woman,
With lovely, smiling eyes,
Black dreams float over his golden head
Like a swarm of carrion flies.

Now many a million tortured souls
In his red halls there be:
Why does he spend his subtle craft
In hunting after me?

Kings, queens and crested warriors
Whose memory rings through time,
There are his prey, and what to him
Is this poor man of rhyme?

That he with such laborious skill,
Should change from role to role,
Should daily act so many a part
To get my little soul?

Oh, he can be the forest,
And he can be the sun,
Or a buttercup or any hour of rest
When the weary day is done.

I saw him through a thousand veils,
And has this not sufficed?
Now must I look on the Devil robed
In the radiant Robe of Christ?

He comes, and his face is sad and mild,
With thorns his head is crowned:
There are great bleeding wounds in his feet,
And in each hand a wound.

How can I tell, who am a fool,
If this be Christ or no?
Those bleeding hands outstretched to me!
Those eyes that love me so!

I see the Robe -- I look -- I hope --
I fear -- but there is one
Who will direct my troubled mind:
Christ's Mother knows her Son.

O Mother of Good Counself, lend
Inelligence to me!
Encompass me with wisdom,
Thou Tower of Ivory!

"This is the Man of Lies," she says,
"Disguised with fearful art:
He has the wounded hands and feet,
But not the wounded heart."

Beside the Cross of Calvary
She watched them as they diced.
She saw the Devil join the game
And win the Robe of Christ.

by Joyce Kilmer

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #6

Old Philosophy #6: "You should save your college textbooks, other books, your childhood toys and games, and clothing that no longer fits you, for your children and grandchildren to use some day."

This one is simple: Don't do it! Except...

You might want to save a few things for you children or grandchildren (or nieces or nephews) to use at your house. Just don't saddle your kids with a lot of your stuff, or with guilt if they don't want to take it. 

Maybe you want to keep a few college textbooks that fit your career or hobby, for your own enjoyment or reference. Perhaps you want to keep some children's books to read to your children or grandchildren, or that they can read while visiting at your house. Maybe you want to keep two or three childhood games that you can play with your children or grandchildren. Perhaps you want to keep a few extra coats and hats in the closet, in case someone gets their things wet. 

As I mentioned in another post, sometimes it's good to just keep numbers in mind. You might want to keep a few games, but you don't have to keep 20 games from your childhood, or you don't have to keep 50 games from when your children were growing up...unless you still play all those games on a regular basis. 

As I look at our coat closet - I mean game closet - I think this is as good a place as any to mention something important. Many of us live with another decision maker besides ourselves. We might not always agree on what to keep and what not to keep. If something belongs to someone else (for example, our spouse), we can beg, barter, or cajole; but unless and until they "come around" to our way of thinking, it's basically not ours to dispose of.

Any thoughts you'd like to share? 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #5

Old Philosophy #5: "You should keep old things, like holey socks, because you might need them in an emergency or in an economic downturn."

Yesterday, we experienced an emergency. I didn't need any holey socks. I was glad, though, to have an old somewhat-worn blanket on hand, which I'd been debating whether or not to keep. We didn't end up needing it, as the electricity came on before we went to bed. But I was glad I had it for the peace of mind, as it brought the number of additional blankets up to what I hoped would be just enough. There are many, right now, in my area and other areas, who are without power, trying to find ways, no doubt, to be warm, or at least to keep from freezing.

Although I was happy I had that old yellow blanket, looking back, I realize there are three reasons why I hadn't gotten rid of it. I love the color; it had belonged to my son who passed away two years ago; and also, I have a long-standing personal philosophy that "you can never have too many blankets". I came up with this personal mantra decades ago, when I was considering baby gifts for friends; but as I had more children, its value became more apparent. Even with our children grown now, you never know who might be staying for a visit or a transition.

But when it comes to socks, I have to admit, when I replace them because they have holes in them, I throw away the old ones. Personally, I don't really see much value in holey socks unless it's all I've got. In an economic downturn, I would undoubtedly have holey socks soon enough (been there, done that), without having saved a drawer full of them. But to save them, on purpose, ahead of time?  Someone once said about this depression philosophy of saving worn out clothing, "In a depression, we would be depressed to have all these worn out things."

Rather than indiscriminately saving old things, in case we might need them in an emergency, what if we were to be pro-active about planning for an emergency?  I'm not referring to the long-term apocalyptic preparations that some people make. Although I don't criticize those, it's not my way. I'm referring to the emergencies that occur somewhere in the world every day and could occur in our world. How about having a small portable snack in our purse or backpack, and non-perishable foods, that don't require heating, in our homes?

How about having a way to get help - or just to stay in touch with people - during an emergency? We still have a landline phone, so one of the things I've saved is an old corded phone that I can plug in during a power outage...and yes, it works without electricity,  provided the phone lines are good. But this is only true if it's truly a landline, which I realized when I was going to loan this phone to my neighbor. She has Comcast phone service, and Comcast was down.

And what about alternative ways to charge the cell phone, besides plugging it into the wall? I was glad, yesterday, to have finally gotten a phone for which I could get (and had gotten) a car charger.

Now let's go back, for just a moment, to the idea of preparing for an "economic downturn". If you live where you own your home outright, and maybe you grow your own food, and maybe you have skills you would be able to barter; then perhaps you would have no need to move, and maybe saving old things might work for you in such an emergency, if you have room for them. But for some people, if hard times were to come, it would mean moving....in order to take a new job, or to live for a bit with a relative or friend, or just to downsize to a lower rent or mortgage payment. In some cases, "saving stuff" for an economic downturn might just be counter-productive.

But blankets? We can always use them to pack our stuff in, right? Actually, as I said in my last post, I believe you can collect too many of  pretty much anything. So you might not want to take my "you can't have too many blankets" mantra too seriously and accumulate way more than you need. And we an always offer old blankets to shelters or, if very worn, to an animal shelter.

But now, I need to go research how to mend a certain yellow blanket.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #4

   Old Philosophy #4: "If you can remake it, or you might be able to use it in another way some day, you should keep it for when you have time to do that."

Like the other philosophies that were passed down from the depression, this is another one that can be good or bad.

This isn't about simple repairs, which I talked about in another blog post. This is the "reuse" in "reduce, reuse, recycle", but people were doing it long before that expression became popular. When I was a child, I had an aunt who was struggling financially. One year, to make Christmas gifts for my sister and me, she cleaned out old bleach bottles. She added little pieces of felt to make them look like pigs, and she punched a hole in each bottle for us to put money in. It was the best piggy bank ever, I recognized the love that went into it, and it was one of my favorite gifts.

Whole books and blog posts demonstrate the many ways we can reuse various items in other ways. My Repurposed Life is a blog I sometimes visit, just for fun. I simply enjoy the author's projects, ideas, and the visual appeal. This woman loves to take a piece of old furniture and make something new and beautiful.

When we re-use things, sometimes we make something beautiful and other times we just need something useful. For example, over the years, I've often saved glass jars...to dispose of grease, to store beans or grains, or to save pocket change or buttons. But I've found the key to control - hey, let's not forgot these posts are about de-cluttering - is to pick a number. Maybe the number is five or maybe it's three. Depending on the type of item, and our needs or hobbies, it could be a larger number, but the idea is to have a definite number. By saving only that number, and putting the rest in the recycle bin or garbage, we can keep the clutter down, as we go along.

I've learned to try to only save things to reuse, which we know we will actually use, and to limit the number. What about you? Do you save things to re-use? What do you save and how do you re-use it?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #3

Old Philosophy #3: "If it is worn out, you should give it to Goodwill."

This one goes way back to my childhood. 

When I was a young girl, I cleaned my closet one day, and I set aside games, which I no longer played with, to give them to Goodwill. My dad complained that I was trying to give away all my good games...and, consequently, he built each of us shelves in the basement to store the things we were not currently using. 

In some ways, I haven't changed much since I was a little girl. Here's my 'thing' about Goodwill. On the one hand, it doesn't have to be perfect for you to give it to Goodwill. Goodwill not only provides people with various products more cheaply than they can get them at the department store, but it is an organization which also trains people and gives people jobs. As a good friend recently pointed out, even sorting through the donated items is a job for someone. 

On the other hand, I don't feel comfortable thinking of Goodwill principally as a place for my worn-out items. I myself shop at Goodwill to find the "treasures". So, I like to help re-stock the place with treasures for others to find, also. I like to pass along some things I no longer want which are still very nice (shh, don't tell my dad). 

Of course, Goodwill is not the only option. In my area, we have a St. Vincent de Paul bin with a sign on it, saying that donations go to help the homeless in our local area. So, nowadays, that's where my clothing goes (and some other things go to Goodwill...or our church's flea market in the summer). 

When I had blindness materials to distribute, I went to the Blindhomeschooler Yahoo group. When I had homeschooling materials to give away, I wrote to the local homeschool group we had participated in until my youngest went to college. The last two or three summers, I've had the opportunity to give religious and educational books to a visiting priest who was sending them back to his mission in Africa. 

I've given household items to local residents through Freecycle, and I've given old blankets to an animal shelter. Of course, all of this takes time, and sometimes it's easier to just pick it all up and take everything to two places, a thrift shop and the garbage. 

As far as worn out items, if it's really and truly worn out - not just in need of a minor repair - I throw it in the garbage. But if it's clothing, and it's at least partly cotton, I make it into a rag. I cut it open, so it won't sneak it's way back into someone's drawer. But first, I take off any buttons. Yes, I save buttons. Usually, when I need buttons for a project, I find myself buying them...still, I save buttons. But remember, recycle sewing is my hobby. I figure that saving stuff is okay if it's small and it's part of your hobby, right? 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #2

Old philosophy #2: If it is broken, you should keep it until you can find a way to fix it.

I once read something like this, "Throw away all the broken toys and other broken items in your home." Do what??  I thought it was heresy or something. (I've since changed my mind a bit.) 

My husband and I were both brought up with the philosophy that "if it's broken, you fix it". If you don't have the skills to fix it, you pay someone else to fix it. Or, you save it until you can learn how to fix it, or until you can get the parts you need to fix it. Or you keep it until it magically fixes itself. (Yes, I added that last part just this moment, tongue in cheek.)

I once splurged and bought a really nice watch. It wasn't overly expensive, but it cost me more than I usually spent for a watch. It stopped working, so I took it to the jewelry shop where I had bought it. When I came back to pick it up, they said, "That will be $$." I don't remember the amount, but I was in shock! If I remember right, it was considerably more than I had paid for the watch.  I asked them why they hadn't given me an estimate, and they said that if they went into the watch to find out what was wrong with it, that was about as much labor as fixing it, and that my bringing it in was my permission for them to fix it. That day I learned a lesson in communication. I also learned that sometimes, it's cheaper not to fix something. 

I no longer think you should fix everything. I think what we repair - or pay someone else to repair - is different for each of us. My husband and I pay someone to fix our cars. My current car is 11 years old. My former car, an American minivan, made almost 200,000 miles before it finally became irreparable. My husband's Jeep has way over 200,000 miles. We have other places we would rather put our money than newer cars; but that's not a decision for everyone.

How do we know whether to keep something, so we can fix it, or whether to just give it up?  I think the best way to figure that out is to consider value, enjoyment, and "likelihood".  

How much money and/or time will it cost to repair it? How long will it last after it's been repaired? Is it worth it? During our last move, a piece of wood near the bottom of my china cabinet broke, making it unusable. I thought it was all over (the cabinet, not my life, but I was pretty sad). But my husband found a strong glue, and he glued the piece back together, and it's been good ever since. 

Another question related to value might be, is it something essential, and we can't afford to get a new one right now? Would it be cheaper to have it repaired than to replace it? 

Or, does it have strong sentimental value?...which brings me to my next criteria. How much enjoyment will we get from the item if we repair it?  Is it something that brings us joy? Will it continue to bring us joy in its repaired state? 

And lastly, what is the likelihood that we really will get it repaired? If we haven't fixed something for months, or perhaps years, when do we think we are going to begin? Is there something that will help us to get started, or it it time to be honest with ourselves? 

If you know me, you might know that I like "fixing" clothing items...repairing, re-purposing, changing out the buttons, etc. I enjoy figuring out how to save something, and I enjoy hand-sewing, so together they constitute a hobby that brings me a lot of enjoyment. My dad once got free lumber and nails in exchange for taking down a building, and he used them to build a house. Cheap housing was a necessity for him at the time; but building was also his hobby. 

If it's our hobby, by all means, let's fix it. If not, we might want to consider whether it's worth it, how much we will enjoy it, and the likelihood that we will actually get around to it. Otherwise, we might want to get it - whatever it might be - out of the house. 

Is there anything special that you've "saved" that was worth it, or that you really enjoyed fixing? 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #1

Old philosophy #1: "If you spent good money for it, or it was a gift, so someone else spent good money for it, you should keep it."

This is a hard one. No one wants to waste their money. No one wants to think of crumpling up a twenty dollar bill (or more) and putting it into the trash can...or through the shredder...or, as people used to say, down the toilet.

But let's look at some of the ways we spend our money, other than buying "things"...just to dig a little deeper  into why we do what we do.

Perhaps you travel somewhere by airplane. You don't bring the plane home with you (not unless you own the plane, which most of us don't). If you travel by plane, perhaps you rent a car. You don't take the rental car home with you. If you aren't visiting relatives or friends (and, sometimes, if you are), you might stay in a motel. But you don't bring the motel home with you, nor the sheets and towels. But, generally speaking, we don't say, "I threw my money away."  What do we say? Hopefully, it's something along the lines of, "I had a wonderful time!"

We pay for a certain value.

If we go out to eat, we nourish our bodies and we enjoy time with our family or friends. If someone likes to golf, they get a feeling of accomplishment and perhaps camaraderie. If someone goes to a concert, they enjoy the music. At the end of the day, we have nothing to show for the money spent. Perhaps a carton of leftovers for tomorrow's lunch; maybe a scorecard or a program. Maybe some pictures. And that's all. But it's really not all, because what he have are the things of the mind and heart. And we can't put those in a box, or on a shelf, or away in a closet.

Now, I'm not suggesting we don't buy any "things", and I'm not suggesting we don't keep any "things".  But I am wondering if we could apply a similar value rule to the things we buy as we do to our experiences.

Years ago, my dad gave us a bread machine. We used it so much, I bought another one, so we could make two loaves at a time. Later, with less people living at home and a busier life outside the home, I wasn't making bread anymore, so I gave up the bread machines. Although both my father and my husband had worked hard to pay for those bread machines, we had already gotten our value from them, many times over.

If we have gotten our value from something, and we don't use it anymore, maybe someone else could get value from it now. And maybe we could use that space for something else that might bring value to our lives in the present - perhaps that something might be an item we have stored away, or perhaps just more space.

But what if we spent good money for something, but we have never used it? Shouldn't we keep it because we spent all that money to buy it?  Shouldn't we keep it, in case we want to use it some day?  But wait. If we haven't used it, what are the chances we will use it in the future? Maybe we need to own our mistake and move on. Maybe we need to move it on out, so we will stop seeing it and regretting that purchase.

If you are reading this post and you don't know me, you might think I advocate not keeping much of anything. If you knew me, you would know that's not true, as I drive an old car, and I like to give new life to old clothing.  And that's what I plan to write my next post about: should we keep it, so we can fix it some day?

Read De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? - #2.
         and the previous post, Why is it so hard to dig out of the packrat den?